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Learn 4 Soundgarden guitar chords

Soundgarden
(Image credit: Karjean Levine/Getty Images)

In the early '90s, when Grunge ruled the world, Seattle natives Soundgarden were set on forging a slightly heavier and inventive path. They seemed at home sitting beside their Grunge counterparts, but their sludgy riffs, unusual time signatures and haunting melodies certainly made them stand out from the crowd.

In this lesson we’re going to check out four key chords from their career as played by guitarist Kim Thayil and frontman/guitarist, the late, great Chris Cornell. And though the band were known for using an array of alternate guitar tunings in their songs, we're focussing on their work in standard and drop D to make this lesson as easily accessible as possible to players. 

Gsus4 (Drop D)

Chord

(Image credit: Future)

This chord is the opening chord from the track Black Hole Sun. It’s very simple to play. You just barre across the lowest four strings with a single finger. 

This chord is played in Drop D tuning, so the root note of the G is actually now located on the fifth fret.

This chord appears many times through the song, both as a Gsus4, and in other positions of the neck.


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Dno5

Chord

(Image credit: Future)

During the Pre-Chorus of the track Outshined, this Dno5 chord makes an appearance. It’s a D Major barre chord rooted off the A string, but the 5th interval (Which is the 7th fret on the D string) is removed. 

Removing intervals from chords is a great way to free up sonic space in the mix for other instruments. 


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Cmaj9

Chord

(Image credit: Future)

This chord is heard at the end of the intro to the track Fell On Black Days. It’s played with the 8th fret on the Low E and the 7th fret on the A played and combined with the other 4 strings of the guitar played open.

This chord has a slightly dissonant quality, it contains both a major third (B) and a minor third (A#) which his not a common thing to see in chords.


D7no3 (Drop D)

Chord

(Image credit: Future)

This chord is another from Black Hole Sun, which is a track that is jam packed full of interesting chord voicings.

This is another Drop D tuned chord. What you have is basically a D Dominant 7th chord, played in a much lower register than usual, but with the major 3rd removed from the chord. The removal of the 3rd gives it a slightly suspended sound, which adds tension.

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Leigh Fuge is a guitar player and content creator with a love for all things '80s. When he’s not creating gear demos for his Youtube channel (opens in new tab) he’s teaching students via his online guitar course Right Notes Music Tuition (opens in new tab). Off camera he spends most of his time travelling around the UK performing at functions and corporate events.  www.instagram.com/leighfugeguitar